News round-up

Over 1 million mink killed in Holland due to coronavirus outbreak

More than 1.1 million mink have been killed on 26 Dutch farms that recorded outbreaks, according to the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority. The government also announced that mink at a 27th farm also were infected and would be killed.

The Netherlands, which has some 160 mink farms, is the world’s fourth-biggest producer of the prized fur after Denmark, China and Poland, according to Wim Verhagen, director of the Dutch federation of fur farmers. Spain has 38 active mink breeding operations, most of them in northwestern Galicia.

Covid-19 is now also on mink farms in Spain

Spain has ordered the culling of nearly 100,000 mink on a farm as coronavirus wreaks havoc in the European fur farming industry.

Officials said it was not completely clear if “transmission was possible from animals to humans and vice versa”

The outbreak at the Spanish mink farm near La Puebla de Valverde, a village of 500 people, was discovered after seven of the 14 employees, including the owner, tested positive in late May, said Joaquín Olona, regional chief of agriculture and environment. Two other employees got infected even after the operation was shut down.

More than 92,000 minks were ordered killed at the farm in the Aragon region of northeastern Spain, with nine out of 10 animals estimated to have contracted the virus.

Not a single mink left in Estonian fur farms

Not a single mink left in Estonian fur farms

The Estonian animal advocacy organization Loomus, colleagues of Respect for Animals in the Fur Free Alliance,has reported that, according to assurances from the Ministry of Rural Affairs and a verification visit by Veterinary and Food Board, Estonia does not have a single mink farm active and running. The ministry said that due to the market situation, Estonia’s largest mink farm has halted its farming of minks at the end of 2019.

In 2016, Estonia’s fur farms held about 130,000 American mink.

Mark Glover, Campaigns Director for Respect for Animals, said: “Fur farming is unsustainable, both economically and environmentally, while perpetuating inherently cruel levels of animal welfare. Loomus deserve our sincere thanks for their sterling work against the fur trade and we support their continued efforts to ensure fur farming ends for ever in Estonia.”

Ireland: fur farming ban included in Programme For Government document

Ireland: fur farming ban included in Programme For Government document

Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party have formed a new Irish government, with all three parties agreeing on a programme of government. Respect for Animals is delighted that the document includes a firm commitment to end fur farming in Ireland as a matter of urgency.

The document, known as “Our Shared Future,” has been formally approved, with a new Prime Minister, or Taoiseach, and a new Agriculture minister now confirmed.

Here is the key part of the document in relation to fur farming:

• Immediately prioritise the drafting of legislation for the phasing out of fur-farming, publishing legislation in this area as soon as possible.

The moment when fur farming is finally banned in Ireland is now much closer!

The Cabinet agreed in July last year to produce legislation to finally end fur farming in the country. This came after a strong campaign in which Respect for Animals was closely involved, along with animal protection groups NARA and ISPCA. However, the legislation has been delayed, not least because of issues faced by the Irish government (and DAFM in particular) due to the challenges of Brexit, a snap general election- which transformed the political landscape- and, of course, the current coronavirus crisis. There are currently three fur farms in Ireland, with around 190,000 mink housed in cages and factory farm conditions.

Last month, a spokesperson told us:

DAFM is in the process of preparing a Bill to provide for the phased introduction of a ban on fur farming which will include a prohibition on mink farming. Along with animal welfare considerations, social and economic aspects in relation to the industry need to be taken into account, provide for an orderly wind down of the sector and allow time for employees to find alternative opportunities. The necessary work to prepare the appropriate legislation is ongoing within the Department. It is not envisaged that the Covid-19 pandemic will have any effect on this process.

News from Canada: seals and mink farms

It is known around the world as one of the most shocking scenes of bloodshed, a painful reminder of the bloody impact of the fur industry, but the Canadian seal hunt has seen a huge drop in the number of seals killed with the majority of the commercial hunt being closed. This is due to the impact of Covid-19.

According to preliminary figures on the website of Canada’s Department for Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), only 388 seals have been reported killed to date in this year’s hunt in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, which would usually run from mid-April through late May. In all of 2019, the number of seals killed numbered 32,071. While still a significant number, this was only 8% of the 2019 quota of 400,000. This year’s numbers represent an even greater overall reduction.

Canada’s mink farms are also facing scrutiny. The financial crisis enveloping the fur trade has been closely monitored by Respect for Animals over recent years. North America’s fur trade has been particularly hit. Last year the North American Fur Auction (NAFA) had been taken over by Finnish fur group Saga Furs, having descended into near financial ruin.

Now an in-depth report by Canadian news outlet CBC has revealed the astonishing extent of taxpayers’ money being wasted on failed attempt to prop up a cruel and unnecessary industry:

Analysis of bankruptcy and government records suggests that, since 2014, over $100 million in provincial and federal money has been spent in Canada, often unsuccessfully, to keep individual mink farms afloat, or is tied up in loans that will likely never be repaid.

So long and steep has been the fall of the mink sector that the bailouts dwarf what the industry is now worth. Last year, farms across Canada sold just $44 million worth of pelts, down from $254 million in 2013, according to Statistics Canada.

The precise amount of public money that’s been spent trying to rescue the mink industry after global prices took a nosedive in 2014 remains secret, however.

The federal Department of Agriculture refuses to release information on payments to the sector, even under access-to-information laws, citing among other things “international affairs” and “economic interests of certain government institutions.”

This is a damning indictment of the fur industry and another example of why taxpayer money should not be used to prop up one of the world’s most inhumane industries. Fur factory farming should be allowed to die out and farmers supported to diversify into sustainable agriculture that does not rely upon terrible conditions for its profit margins.

It is clear that the Canadian fur factory industry is financial unviable and a disastrous failure for animals, unable to meet even the most basic standards of animal welfare. Respect for Animals hopes that Canada soon joins the UK and many other countries by introducing a fur farm ban once and for all.

Fur Trade’s Online Fur Auction Disaster

Saga Furs, the major fur auction house owned by the Finnish fur industry, has published its half yearly report, with a decrease in sales of over 50%. In desperation for working capital, Saga had applied for a loan guarantee for the covid-19 pandemic from Finnvera, the state-owned Finnish financing company, but this request was rejected. In May, the company decided to suspend pre-financing for producers, a financial disaster for fur farmers, citing ‘liquidity tightening’.

Saga Furs had held its previous fur auction online, having been forced to abandon staging the usual auction due to the global coronavirus crisis.  

In late March, the online auction tried to sell the skins of millions of animals raised in terrible factory farm conditions, including 3559808 mink, 537593 fox, 56019 finnraccoon and 25152 sable.

The online stream showed skins of foxes and finnraccoon constantly going unsold. Mink furs sold at higher rates but at dismally low prices as the auction continues.

The Kopenhagen Fur auction followed in April with similar results. Many furs were not even made available and those that did sold were sold below the cost of production. Another Saga auction began in early July with over 4 million mink skins offered

This is a financial catastrophe for the fur industry and means many fur farms are in a precarious economic position. Respect for Animals encourages fur farmers to abandon the morally and financially bankrupt fur industry for good.

Fur Trade Blog Calls Covid-19 a ‘silver lining’      

The dire outlook for the fur trade contrasts sharply with the attitude recently expressed in a fur industry propaganda blog, which shockingly described the coronavirus crisis as a ‘small silver lining’ and ‘an opportunity’ for the fur trade, with animal protection organisations unable to mount effective campaigns.

Please return the enclosed donation form to help prove them wrong.

Ask your MP to sign EDM 267

The import and sale of fur is allowed even though the main ways fur is obtained, including fur farming, are banned in Britain. The law must change. 

Killing animals just for their fur is cruel and barbaric, and we must stop funding it by banning imports of real fur immediately.

Fur import bans have been successfully implemented elsewhere. There is an EU-wide ban on the import of domestic cat and dog fur and California is banning the sale of real fur.

The UK should take a lead and become the first country in the world to ban fur imports.

We have over 90 MPs already, but we need much more to make a difference for animals. Please contact your representative and ask them to back our calls for a Fur Free UK by signing Early Day Motion 267.

More embarrassment for the fur trade!

As if the financial crisis facing the fur industry wasn’t enough, fur trade leaders were featured in a recent Private Eye article documenting the ‘interesting’ characters working for the International Fur Federation. The eye-watering details can be read on our website.

Meanwhile, Mark Oaten, the scandal-dogged former Liberal Democrat MP now CEO of the IFF (see Private Eye), has backed Sir Ed Davey to become the new leader of his party. Within days of Oaten’s toxic endorsement, Sir Ed had signed our Early Day Motion calling for fur to be banned in the UK. Keep up the great work, Mark!